Jaco leads the way

Jaco van der Westhuyzen has the Springbok No 10 jersey for the moment. He has the power to make it his own.

Injury to Andre Pretorius, an out of favour Meyer Bosman and a still recovering Butch James has handed Van der Westhuyzen a crucial opportunity to make cement his place at pivot.

A rather scratchy display against the World XV in Johannesburg was followed by a better but far from complete performance in the first Test against Scotland.

Van der Westhuyzen has come in for much criticism from media and public alike, but Bok management are backing the speedy back to at least take them through the extended Tri-Nations.

At that stage Pretorius will be back from injury and ready to win the jersey back. The next few matches are crucial to Van der Westhuyzen’s longevity at flyhalf in the green and gold.

“Jaco is our flyhalf and we need to give him time to settle there,” Bok assistant coach Allister Coetzee told keo.co.za. “We cannot afford to chop and change and besides we believe he has what it takes.”

Many critics, however, disagree saying he needs space to work his magic and is better suited to fullback – a position he excelled for the Bulls in the latter stages of the Super 14.

Van der Westhuyzen wants to be the Bok No 10 and Jake White feels he is ideally suited to his plans leading up to and including the 2007 World Cup.

Said White: “One of the frustrations I’ve had is that Jaco hasn’t played flyhalf in a (Super 14) franchise again. And that re-affirms what I have said in the past. There is no long term planning on how we are going to develop. Everyone agrees that we don’t have a settled flyhalf yet no-one ever keeps a settled flyhalf.”

White will thus keep Van der Westhuyzen and hopefully he can ignite the Bok backs in the same way he did in 2004’s Tri-Nations-winning campaign.

By Andrew Hollely